When many people think of e-books they likely think of the Kindle or of spammers flooding social networks with notes about free e-books. E-books though are an important part of the B2B online marketing arsenal. They offer a digital format that is easy to display and distribute a large collection of information. While blogs, social networks and web sites are great, they are best for short content. Most blog posts are only 500-1000 words, or sometimes even less. Some topics need more depth, and this especially applies to B2B where companies often talk to niche groups with a very deep interest of a certain issue.
How Does A B2B E-Book Work?
Recently SAP, the business management software provider, released e-book for its community network.
The book, in addition to being available as a PDF download, is also a fully interactive online book. SAP has done an excellent job of compiling in-depth comments and information about their community network in one place, while includes ample links and media allowing readers to dive deeper on topics of interest. This includes integrating video and text testimonials, which are an important factor when making a larger software purchase the likes of SAP’s product line. The web interface for the e-book also allows for users to jumps easily to the sections and items of the book that most interest them. By segmenting the 36-page book, along with its links and media, SAP should have a large amount of data from user behavior viewing the book which can help drive future marketing decisions. This is a good model for being able to attach analytics and data mining from long-format web content, versus simply providing a download.
How Could SAP Improve This E-book Experience?
When it comes to content distribution it is often the little things that make the biggest difference. While I credit SAP for putting together a good example of long form online content they or anyone else doing a B2B e-book can do better.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Make Simple URL – As you can see from the screen shot below, the URL used is not really easy to remember and hard to share because it is so long. It should be a shorter URL that could easily go in print materials. Using a custom URL shortener could help this, but creating a descriptive URL would also help with search engine indexing. When making an investment in creating this type of web content maximizing search traffic should be a major priority.
2. Improve Lead Generation Support – As you can see below SAP did a good job of cross promoting opt-in behavior on other social networks, however it did so only at the end of the e-book. It is likely that a sizable percentage of readers won’t make it to the end of the book. These cross promoting links should be actionable from all, or at least more, pages.
3. Contain A Stronger Call To Action – In the upper right hand corner of the screen shot above you see a contact us link on the web page. SAP should have a stronger call to action for lead generation purposes on that page. This could be in the form of a special offer or a request for additional content that might be interesting to the user.
4. Make it Easier To Share – The social web is largely about making content easy to share. While SAP built in sharing functionality to this e-book, they hid it at the bottom of the page. Additionally, when you click to share, your only option is to share via e-mail. While e-mail is very important, providing other methods of sharing can help improve the reach of your content.
Do you have other suggestions for SAP? What have you found to be e-book best practices?